The 10 worst places to smuggle animals
Animal smuggling is a big problem in Asia, and its practicioners try hiding their cargo in all manner of places when attempting to weasel past customs. Take for example the 24 geckos and 20 skinks found in a German tourist's underwear -- ready for sale on the black market. The geckos and skinks have been sent for trauma counseling, the German to the klink.
Animals have been found under hats, in carry-on luggage, taped to ankles, and just about anywhere on a body that one can think of. Here are 10 such places.
1. In a suitcase: Filled with flying squirrels and snakes
This smuggler was busted arriving at Hong Kong International Airport in 2007 with a suitcase filled to the brim with critters ranging from snakes, to squirrels, to black pond turtles, three-keeled land tortoises, radiated tortoises and true tortoises. He would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for the cries of a travelling zoo ringing out from his luggage.
2. Taped to ankles: Songbirds prefer to ride low
There must be something exciting about carrying a wild animal around in pants that drives people to experiment in alternative animal smuggling lifestyles. National Geographic posted this story about a man caught at LAX trying to smuggle 14 exotic songbirds into the United States from Vietnam.
3. In socks: Tape python-filled socks to chest -- rinse with caution
A 22-year-old Norwegian man was arrested in Kristiansand, Norway after leaving a ferry from Denmark with 14 snakes and ten lizards taped to his body. What gave this entrepreneurial young man away? A tarantula alerted customs officials to its presence by doing what spiders do best, scurrying.
4. Inside a fake leg: Wanna iguana? Lose a leg
In 2007 a man told an undercover customs agent that he tried -- and succeeded -- to smuggle iguanas into the US via LAX inside a specially hollowed out prosthetic leg. Points for creativity, negative points for illegal animal smuggling activities.
5. In your pants: That snake in your pants is so ... venomous
Per Johan Adolfsson was busted trying to enter Australia from Bangkok with four venomous baby king cobras and four baby emerald tree boas strapped to his legs in homemade pouches. Witty commentary not needed.
6. Strapped to your chest in a money belt: Lizards (15 of them)
More skinks and geckos got to hitch a ride on a nervous, sweating middle-aged man when Michael Plank tried to smuggle two geckos, two monitor lizards and 11 skinks through LAX in a money belt he strapped to his chest. He didn't make it. What's worse than carrying 15 lizards on a 14-hour flight? Being one of those lizards.
7. Under a hat: As in, hide a monkey there
In 2007 a man was nabbed at Laguardia Airport in New York when a small monkey was seen climbing on his pony tail from under his hat. From the BBC article, "When passengers noticed the fist-sized primate on the flight, they asked the man 'if he knew he had a monkey on him,' Ms Russell said." This stuff can't be made up. OK, it can, but then it usually ends up in a really, really bad movie from the guys behind such classics as Scary Movie, or Scary Movie 12.
8. In a backpack, in women's stockings and in luggage
In 2002 a Palm Springs man went for the animal smuggling trifecta by stuffing Asian leopard cats in his backpack, while his companion sneakily tried to conceal brightly colored birds of paradise in women's stockings, and a couple of pygmy monkeys in -- yes, inside -- his underwear. What's worse than being a lizard strapped to a man's chest for 14 hours? See above.
9. In a cardboard box: Bears dig boxes (ones with food at least)
In 2006 Cambodian authorities a arrested a man as he left Phnom Penh International Airport with a cardboard box he collected that contained a baby Malaysian sun bear. His excuse? He thought it was stuffed, and it was a present for his daughter. Not really, but when caught so red-handed, the excuse might as well fit the crime.
10. Inside underwear: Our friend, the German tourist
The man mentioned in the intro gets a very deserving spot on the list for packing his 'delicate' space with skinks and geckos. Skinks. And geckos. Squirming around, looking for a way to escape. No thank you.
Moral of the story, there is no good place to try and hide an animal. Next time you see a man on the plane with a very ... active pant leg, keep an eye out for a skink or songbird -- you could be witnessing an animal smuggling.